Dear WJC Family,
Earlier this week I received a survey from The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, our movement’s umbrella organization for congregations. The topic of the survey was “mental health,” and it was asking about things congregations have done to raise awareness about mental health issues during the pandemic. It reminded me that now, in the cold of winter with its short days and cold temperatures and having been chased back inside (if we ever left) by the omicron variant of COVID-19, would be a good time to check in with you on the same subject.
The truth is, over the last few weeks I have met with a noticeably higher number of people (mostly on Zoom) for pastoral counseling. I get it – many folks are frustrated by the setbacks caused by omicron. Others are shocked and dismayed by the fact that it is the two-year anniversary of COVID-19 in America and we still seem unable to live “normally.” Still others are feeling blue—isolated, sad, even depressed—from the combination of the season, the anxiety about work, kids, lost time, what we’re missing. And more than a few are experiencing some combination of all these feelings.
I want to remind you that my fellow clergy and I are here to help. Sometimes just talking things out can make a person feel better. Often praying together or getting another perspective for how to move forward is helpful. In some cases, there’s a physical or logistical hurdle that we can help overcome. And if needed, we have avenues to get you help from professionals who can assist further with a wide range of needs including talk therapy, and counseling for drug and alcohol abuse and deep depression/suicidal thoughts. If you find yourself struggling with your mental health, please reach out—we are here to help.
And if you just need a phone call or a little help—a meal or two because COVID-19 has recently moved through your household or help with errands—we have volunteers who are eager to help. Just let me know and I will gladly connect you to the Bikkur Holim committee who are an amazing set of volunteers. They’ve truly been heroic during the pandemic and they would love to help you too. Just let us know. In the meantime, we are sending blessings for strength, peace and comfort during these difficult days.
There is good news on the horizon too. First, the COVID-19 cases have declined to a degree that we are able to reinstate Kiddish this week! So when you are ready to come back to shul, or if you’ve been coming for the last three weeks when we refrained from serving food, we will have the opportunity to eat lunch and shmooze. I know we are all looking forward to a time when everyone will feel comfortable coming together in person and in the meantime, we are so glad we have the option for joining services virtually. Also, we want to share that we are already making plans for the spring, including outdoor programming and services with appropriate safety and security protocols. We’ll keep you posted on that as it gets closer.
One more thing I want to mention—our family Israel trip scheduled for this February Break, geared towards families with older elementary school-aged children through families with college students, has been postponed due to COVID concerns. The new dates for the trip are Winter Break 2022, December 22, 2022 – January 1, 2023. We are inviting all of you to consider joining us. Perhaps the Winter Break timing will be better for your family (especially those with students in college) or perhaps there’s another reason that you’d like to join in now. Whatever the reason, we’d love to have you and f you are interested in information about the trip, let me know!